Aspasia from Miletus

Aspasia from Miletus was a scholar and philosopher who, through her intelligence, had a great influence on Athenian culture that dates back to the 5th century BC. treated her female subjects as second-class citizens. She used her status to open a school for philosophy and rhetoric. She is known for having an enormous influence on leaders and philosophers such as Pericles, Plato and Socrates.

Intelligent woman

Aspasia was born around 470 BC. in Miletus (Asia Minor, now Turkey) and died in 410 BC. Being from Miletus, she was handy in circumventing the restrictions imposed on Athenian women. Women lacked basic rights and were shielded from public life. The majority of Greek women were illiterate and would never have been welcome in the philosophical and academic circles around them Plato and Socrates. Aspasia, however, arrived in the mid-440s. as an educated woman in Athens, taught by her father, Axiochos. She established an academic center for the exchange of ideas that served to train young women from the higher Athenian circles.


Aspasia's writings and her knowledge of philosophy and local politics prompted the most powerful citizens of Athens, including well-known writers and thinkers, to attend her lectures. Aspasia was believed because of her intelligence and charisma, and Socrates admitted in his writings that she was his mentor in rhetoric. Although none of her writings have been handed down, we find references to her in the work of countless renowned Ancient Greek scholars who recognize her as their muse.

Relation with Perikles

Aspasia is especially remembered by her love affair with Pericles, the leader of the democratic Athens, with whom she had a son, Perikles the younger. Because she caused his divorce as his mistress, many Athenians spit out Aspasia, also because, according to them, she exerted too much political influence. Perikles and Aspasia never married but did live together and she was treated like his equal. Socrates and Plato admitted to being influenced by her. Her influence on her consort was evident in the rethoric style of Perikles' fame eulogy (430 BC) that he spoke on the occasion of the commemoration of the dead in the first year of the Peloponnesian War.

Aspasia in the artwork Dinner Party by Judy Chicago

Its place is characterized by elements found in the art of Ancient Greece. On her plate you will find a floral motif that suggests her femininity with earth colors that are also found in the art and architecture of the 5th century BC. were used.
On the table layer you will find references to the clothing style and the jewels worn by both men and women in Aspasia's time. One of the best known elements from Greek clothing is the chiton (similar to the Roman gown) referred to by the frowned ends of the pad. Two pins in the form of leaves attach the frowned fabric to the layer. They resemble the jewelry-adorned buckles that the Greeks used to attach their clothes.
On the back of the shelf you will find six small black palm trees, embroidered as a stylized version of honeysuckle or a palm leaf, a dominant motif in Ancient Greek painting and pottery and used as an architectural detail. The pattern of the flower on the vine that was stitched into the gold, silver and black on the edge of the table layer is a copy of the motifs found on many Greek vases and urns. This pattern is repeated in the illuminated letter 'A' on the front of the shelf.

Video: Aspasia of Miletus (February 2020).

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